MILAN — As the fashion pack returns to Florence after two years — when international buyers were mostly absent due to the pandemic — WWD asked retailers to share their favorite spots in town to relax, enjoy a drink under the sun or simply be enchanted by the city’s historical and cultural landmarks.
From aperitifs in luxury hotels to candlelit dinners, visits to hidden Florentine gems and shopping in storied boutiques, the Pitti folks know how to chill when the show is over.
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Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus
“When in Florence, I always try to find time to revisit a notable artwork given that the city is peppered with Renaissance masterpieces. A favorite is the Convent of San Marco that was rebuilt by the Medicis and is filled with works from Fra Angelico, including his wonderful Annunciation. It’s a short walk from the town center and is so magical seeing important works in their original inspirational environments.
“I love having a meal at the Cantinetta Antinori. It used to be a relatively classic spot and has been beautifully reimagined as a rich, luxurious restaurant steps away from the Duomo. The Antinoris have been making wine for more than six centuries, so be sure to try a glass or two.
“For a quick lunch, I often grab a porchetta sandwich from the window at Antica Porchetteria Granieri 1916, around the corner from the Palazzo Vecchio. It’s absolutely delicious.
“When in town, I try to walk as much as possible. I especially love a late evening walk home after dinner when the streets are more quiet and you can hear your footsteps echoing off the cobblestones. It’s always special.”
Russ Patrick, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, men’s, Neiman Marcus
“Salvatore Ferragamo at Palazzo Spini Feroni is uplifting and inspiring. The frescos, Chapel, Museo and original works of legends like Sophia, Audrey and Marilyn make us recall how lucky we are to be in this industry. My first visit as a buyer was almost 30 years ago and I can clearly recall that appointment and many that followed.
“Ginori 1735’s store in Florence is a visual feast. I love the winter garden, wrap station, happy colors and especially how they make the tabletop assortment come to life in a way that is comfortable and not intimidating.
“Gucci Garden is an intense immersive experience. Theater, retail and food all come together to express the creative power of the brand. You leave feeling part of that story with a deep connection.
Courtesy of Gucci
“Antico Setificio Fiorentino is a mesmerizing walk back in time. Handlooms producing the finest silk without haste — only quality. The colors are so genuine it is like you are living within a Renaissance painting instead of viewing it from the outside. What the Ricci family has done to maintain this treasure is remarkable.”
Sandra Park, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s luxury collections, Saks Fifth Avenue
“All’Antico Vinaio has the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Every time I’m in Florence, I make time to swing by and pick up La Favolosa sandwich — my absolute favorite and very ‘fabulous.’ There is limited space to eat inside, so I typically try to find a spot to sit in Piazza della Signoria or walk over to the Arno River to eat with a view, though the sandwich is usually gone by the time I make it to the river.
“The Laurentian Library, or Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, is another gem in Florence. I stumbled into the library, designed by Michelangelo, four years ago while I was exploring the city. Visitors enter into a dark vestibule with a dramatic gray staircase made from Pietra Serena stone which leads to the bright reading room with carved lime wood ceilings and special book-benches. There are so many details to Michelangelo’s design in this library that feel contradicting yet harmonious at the same time.”
Bob Mitchell, co-chief executive officer, Mitchells Stores
“My three favorite places in Florence are the Sostanza Trattoria, best chicken on the planet, great bistecca Florentine, typical Tuscan food. The Duomo — I love walking to Pitti past the Duomo. It puts you in a beautiful mind-set. And third, is people watching at Pitti. It’s informative and fun to see the spectrum of dress at the fair.”
Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s
“For food, L’Osteria da Giovanni is one of my favorite restaurants in Florence. I think I’ve had a meal there every time I’ve been for Pitti, usually with a large group of American fashion folks as it’s a go-to for ‘family dinners.’ The food is incredible. Of course, you can get a great bistecca fiorentina, but I also love the pici with sausage and kale ragu.
“For shopping, there is some incredible shopping in Florence and it’s hard to name just one store. The thing I appreciate most, aside from the product itself, is the robust personality of each location. Each shop feels individual, specific, and special. My typical hit list includes Margaret Howell, who has an impeccable shop on the Piazza Carlo Goldoni, the WP Lavori store, which features a great edit from both their brands and some interesting third-party merchandise, Federico Curradi’s Santo Spirito 9, the ultimate location for special artisanal goods, and of course, fragrance mecca, Santa Maria Novella, where I stock up on scent for both myself and my home.
Courtesy of Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
“As far as hotels, one of my favorites for work travel is the Hotel Lungarno. It sits on the Arno and has great views of both the river and the Ponte Vecchio. There’s also a lovely lobby and terrace that both overlook the water, which has become the location for a great end of day team huddle to gather and discuss what we have seen and done. In addition, the decor is understated but not boring, and incredibly well executed. The best word I can use is chic. It’s timeless.”
Riccardo Tortato, head of buying department, Tsum
“I always like to go to Villa Cora on Thursday evenings as they have the famous Pizza and Champagne night by the pool. It’s a fun night immersed in a beautiful location.
Image Courtesy / Andrea Getuli
“Loretta Caponi has the most beautiful sets of sheets and tablecloths. In my opinion, there is no place in the world where you can buy home linens chicer than Loretta Caponi’s. Many noble families consider Loretta Caponi one of the best boutiques in Florence.
“When I am in Florence, I like to stay at the Four Seasons.Especially in summer [when] you can sit in the private park where you can either dine or have an aperitif. In the summer, I recommend you sleep ‘at the villa’ where you can rest with the windows open listening to the birds singing.
“I would suggest a visit to the Medici Chapels, which I believe to be one of Michelangelo’s most sublime and important works. Given the summer temperature I would then return to the Four Seasons hotel and take a dip in the pool.”
Bosse Myhr, director of womenswear and menswear, Selfridges
“There is always exciting newness that we discover when we travel; needless to say, Florence as a city is phenomenal and wonderful restaurants are aplenty. Vivoli is my favorite spot for gelato; restaurant-wise: Cibreo, the location next to the Helvetica and Bristol hotel, is nothing short of amazing.”
Margaux Lataste, senior buyer menswear luxury and designers, Printemps
“4 Leoni’s outdoor terrace on the charming Piazza della Passera and their famous pear-stuffed pasta in a sauce of taleggio cheese and asparagus keep me coming back when in Florence. It’s all about traditional Florentine cuisine reinterpreted in a contemporary and elegant way. The rustic-chic Tuscan identity with terracotta floors and red bricks reminds me of the fascinating history of the restaurant. For decades, the Trattoria 4 Leoni was a family-run business with its historic cook, Gina, and offered typically Florentine dishes at low prices. After World War II, it used to be one of the traditional wine shops of Florence until reopening again in the ’90s. Just opposite the restaurant’s terrace, there is a small traditional gelateria serving delicious artisanal ice cream — I always go there in summer to finish my meal on a sweet note.
“LuisaViaRoma is and always has been a must-stop-by when in Florence. I enjoy browsing through their selection of Italian, international and emerging designers. Their eye-catching window displays with giant screens are always creatively unique and the shopping experience one of a kind. I always enjoy the cold-pressed juices on the first floor café Floret. LVR’s history still amazes me at every visit — from a small ’30s boutique selling straw hats to one of the most visited luxury online retailers in 2022.
Image Courtesy / Alessandro Moggi
“My absolute favorite is Hotel Brunelleschi in the very heart of the city. It is the only hotel that has been constructed within a circular Byzantine tower of the sixth century and a medieval church. The architectural beauty of the hotel is stunning from the outside and inside. The rooms offer a maximum of comfort and the Piazza della Signoria is just a walking distance [away]. My favorite moment: Opening the windows of the hotel room in the early morning and listening to the sounds of the lively historical center.
“The Uffizi Gallery is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Florence. The collections and artwork mainly from the 14th century and the Renaissance include some absolute masterpieces: Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. I recommend to do aperitivo the Florentine way — at the emblematic Café Gilli, probably the oldest café in the city of Florence, which has been established over 270 years ago by a Swiss family during the Medici-era. Favorite drink: Negroni on ice.”
Federica Montelli, head of fashion, Rinascente
“The Trattoria and Caffe Cibreo are my favorites when I’m visiting the city, and now also the Nuovo Caffè Cibreo in Via del Verrocchio, the Atelier de ‘Nerli in Sanfrediano, the Menagere for lunch and cocktails, and finally a very classic Buca Lapi for a traditional Tuscan dinner.
“Our store in Florence is a ‘gem’ compared to the largest flagships in Milan and Rome, but it has nothing to envy in terms of offer — visit its terrace with a view. When I’m in town, I always visit vintage boutiques looking for unique pieces.
“If I’m in town for work, I like to stay at the Hotel Santa Maria Novella, for its enviable location and impeccable service, or at The Place or the Calimala boutique hotel. If I am visiting Florence for relaxation, I head toward Fiesole at Villa San Michele or Il Salviatino.
“My must is a visit to Fiesole, which has a great emotional value for me, for a stroll after a nice lunch at Coquinarius. For a relaxing and alternative afternoon, I suggest a lunch in the countryside at the Chalet Fontana and a visit to the Calicanto nursery. In Florence, on the other hand, you cannot miss a visit to Palazzo Strozzi for the current exhibition, accompanied by a coffee or tea in the gardens of the Four Seasons, a relaxing pit stop at the Soulspace spa, a visit to the Todo Modo bookshop and finally the terrace. The Lodge for an aperitif at sunset.”
Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion and editorial director, Nordstrom
“Pitti Uomo is a bit like homecoming, especially this season. It’s always fun to catch up with friends after the show, and while it used to be at Cafe Gilli, Irish pub The Fiddler’s Elbow is fast becoming the industry’s de facto watering hole. I’m also a fan of the atmosphere at Harry’s Bar, but always have to make time for an afternoon spritz at Sesto at the Hotel Excelsior, which offers an iconic view of everything that makes Florence special.”
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